Release Notes for Learn SaaS

This page contains features and updates currently on Learn SaaS Test/Stage and Production environments. Visit Archived SaaS Release Notes to see features and updates in older versions. Visit In-Product Updates to learn more about in-product updates.

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Learn SaaS release 3900.48.0

Blackboard Learn SaaS Continuous Delivery v3900.48.0
Release to Test/Stage: Tuesday, 16 August 2022 | Release to Production: Thursday, 1 September 2022
Original Experience
Ultra Experience

For full feature details please review the corresponding notes for the Learn 3900.48.0 version included below on this page. Details can also be found on Behind the Blackboard.

Latest release: 3900.48.0-rel.1+62b6aa2 to Test/Stage servers to take place on 16 August 2022.

For more information on updates and bug fixes, please visit Behind the Blackboard.

 


September 2022 – 3900.48 Release

The September 2022 - 3900.48 release is complete with features in three areas:

  • assessment and grading;
  • richer course and content design;
  • diversity, equity, and inclusion; and 
  • integration, extension, and management.

These improvements primarily impact instructors and students, but value is truly added for all users. Some features do require administrative action.

Instructors:

Instructors and students:

Students:

Administrators:

All users:

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Assessments and Grading

Rubric Copy between Courses – 3900.48

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View, Original Course View
Impact: Instructors

Instructors spend a great amount of time building and refining assessment rubrics. Rubrics provide instructors with a set of criteria to grade student assignments. Reusing these rubrics provides instructors with greater flexibility in how they design and build their courses. This saves time and reduces the need to recreate items within their Ultra courses.

From the Copy Content menu, instructors may select the Rubrics folder from the desired course. To copy all rubrics the instructor may select the checkbox for the Rubrics folder.

Image 1. Rubrics folder option from Copy Content menu

Rubrics folder option from Copy Content menu

To copy individual rubrics the instructor may select the Rubrics folder to open it. Select the checkbox for each rubric to copy.

Image 2. List of all Rubrics

List of all Rubrics

Copied Rubrics appear in the Gradebook Settings area. Select ‘Gradebook,’ select the gear icon in the top right-hand corner, and review all the rubrics in the ‘Course Rubrics’ section.

For administrators: This feature is available for all Ultra courses. There are no configurations needed.

Return to September 2022 – 3900.48 Release description


Question Banks Sorting Controls – 3900.48

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

Instructors often use question banks to organize their assessment questions. In the past, question banks were difficult to navigate. With this release, instructors can now use sorting controls. These controls supply improved navigation through the questions in the bank. Instructors can easily sort question banks based on the name, number of questions in a bank, or the last edited date.

Image 1. Sorting arrows added for name, number of questions, and last edited date

Question Banks sorting controls: Sorting arrows added for name, number of questions, and last edited date

For administrators: This feature is available for all Ultra courses. There are no configurations needed.

Return to September 2022 – 3900.48 Release description


Discussion replies are available on the individual discussion grading page – 3900.48

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

Instructors may want to respond to a student in a discussion while grading the student's participation. In the past, this was not possible. Grading discussions and taking part in discussions were on separate pages. Now an instructor can reply to posts from the individual student grading page. This provides greater efficiency in the grading process for instructors.

Image 1. Instructors may now reply to a student’s discussion post while grading a single student

Instructors may now reply to a student’s discussion post while grading a single student

For administrators: This feature is available for all Ultra courses. There are no configurations needed.

Return to September 2022 – 3900.48 Release description


Grade History: Non-Posted Grades Included – 3900.48

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

Grade records are important to instructors and academic leaders. These records are helpful for addressing student questions and grade challenges. In an earlier release, we added Grade History to the Ultra Course View. In this release, we are including a log of changes to non-posted grades.

There are no changes to how Instructors and other privileged users access and download Grade History.

For administrators: This feature is available for all Ultra courses. There are no configurations needed.

Return to September 2022 – 3900.48 Release description


Summary list of annotations for inline grading – 3900.48

Blackboard Learn SaaS, Learn 9.1
Ultra Experience, Original Experience
Ultra Course View, Original Course View
Impact: Instructors, Students

File submissions can be annotated inline when grading. Now a side panel will summarize all comments in a list. Selecting a comment will navigate the instructor or student to the location of that comment in the document. This change makes it easier to find all comments and feedback in a student’s submission.

This functionality will be released in September, independently from the 3900.48 release. Details will be shared later through an update on this note.

For administrators: There are no configurations needed.

Return to September 2022 – 3900.48 Release description


Set points for manually added gradable items  – 3900.48

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors, roles with the same gradebook privileges

Manually added gradable items collect additional scores and grades for students. Previously, instructors would need to set the item to display as points to edit the maximum points. Then they could change the display option to letter or percentage. Now instructors can always edit the maximum points value when using any display type.

Image 1: Instructor creates an manually graded item, selects the percentage grade option, and has the choice to edit the maximum points

Instructor creates an manually graded item, selects the percentage grade option, and can edit the maximum points

For administrators: This feature is available for all Ultra courses. There are no configurations needed.

Return to September 2022 – 3900.48 Release description


Test Timer Notifications – 3900.48

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Students

When taking a timed assessment, it is important for students to be aware of the time that remains to complete it. However, a fixed display of the timer can also add stress. To support various student preferences, we are introducing notifications for timed assessments. These notifications are less invasive yet keep the student informed.

  • For assessments less than 10 minutes, there is no notification.
  • For assessments less than 1 hour but greater than 10 minutes, there will be a single reminder when 10% of the time remains. For example, for an assessment with a 10-minute time limit, the notification will appear when 1-minute remains.
  • For assessments longer than or equal to an hour, there will be an added notification when 50% of the time remains. For example, for an assessment with a one-hour time limit, the notification will appear when 30 minutes remain. A second notification will appear when 10% of the time remains.
  • If a student has a time limit accommodation, a notification will appear when 10% of the extra time remains. If the extra time allowed is less than 10 minutes, there will be no added notification.
  • If a student has an unlimited time accommodation, there will be no notifications for the time remaining.

All notifications for remaining time auto-dismiss after 20 seconds. If a student prefers, they can dismiss the notification.

Image 1: Example notification of time remaining

Example notification of time remaining

For administrators: This feature is available for all Ultra courses. There are no configurations needed.

Return to September 2022 – 3900.48 Release description


Improved Access to Feedback – 3900.48

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Students

Student access to feedback is critical. Students need consistent ways to access feedback regardless of how an instructor grades. In the past, there were times when students could not access feedback if an instructor had overridden a grade. Now students have access to feedback regardless of how an instructor grades.

Return to September 2022 – 3900.48 Release description


Richer Course and Content Design

Microsoft Immersive Reader for Anthology Ally for LMS – 3900.48

Blackboard Learn SaaS, Learn 9.1
Ultra Experience, Original Experience
Ultra Course View, Original Course View
Impact: Instructors, Students, Administrators, Course Builders

Many classrooms today, both physical and digital, include participants with diverse needs. To better support learning needs and preferences, alternative formats are key. Alternative formats let all participants access course content according to their preferences.

Anthology Ally for LMS now includes a new alternative format: Microsoft Immersive Reader. Microsoft Immersive Reader helps students improve their reading, comprehension, and grammar skills. All course participants are empowered by Anthology Ally with Microsoft Immersive Reader.

From the Ally Alternative Format menu, users may select the Immersive Reader option and select download.

Image 1: Select the Anthology Ally Icon

Course Content displayed. Select the Anthology Ally Icon to start

Image 2: Select Immersive Reader Alternative Format

Select Immersive Reader Alternative Format

Image 3: Immersive Reader View

Immersive Reader View

Your institution will need to license Anthology Ally for LMS to use this functionality.

For administrators: There are no configurations needed.

Return to September 2022 – 3900.48 Release description


Prevent copying an entire course into the same course – 3900.48

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors and other users with course copy privileges

Course copy is an important feature for building out and updating courses. In an earlier release, we added a way to copy content within a single course. In this release, we made modifications to the course copy options to prevent inadvertent full course copying in the same course. Instructors may continue to copy or duplicate content within a course.

Images 1: Disabled checkbox to prevent copying an entire course into the same course

Disabled checkbox to prevent copying an entire course into the same course

For administrators: There are no configurations needed.

Return to September 2022 – 3900.48 Release description


Activity Stream navigation improvements – 3900.48

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: All users

The Activity Stream supplies updates about various actions taking place in a course. For example, it is simple for users to navigate straight to a new test in a course. To help make it clearer where a user is navigating, we have added an on-hover underline to the course name and the content item name.

Images 1 and 2: Activity Stream - course name and assignment name underline on hover

Activity stream: course name and assignment name underline on hover. No underline visible.
Activity stream: course name and assignment name underline on hover. Underline visible (hover state)

For administrators: There are no configurations needed.

Return to September 2022 – 3900.48 Release description


Integration, Extension, and Management

Blackboard Home: Additional Site Health and Utilization Reports – 3900.48

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Original Experience
Impact: System administrators

Blackboard Home gives administrators insights into how their Learn site is being used. The previous release of Blackboard Home focused on storage usage metrics.

The September release has updates related to site health and utilization. It also helps administrators understand adoption of Ultra Course View.

As before, administrators can see metric changes over time. They can also use the time picker to look at specific timeframes. In this release, there are six new reports.

  • Unique users. See the count of active unique users over time.
  • Logins. See the count of user logins over time. Multiple logins by the same user are counted multiple times.
  • Requests Per Minute. See the average requests per minute served by the Learn application. This reflects the traffic volume (throughput) of the site. Request volume includes traffic from web browsers, mobile apps, and integrated systems.
  • Application Performance Index (Apdex). This is a measure of the timeliness of the user experience. It is impacted by both the application performance and users’ bandwidth. Apdex is on a scale from 0 to 1. A 0 is an unsatisfactory slow experience; 1 is very fast loading. The apdex measure is a standard managed by an open standards organization. It is meant to act as one indicator of a satisfactory user experience.
  • Uptime. This report helps administrators identify outages where users were impacted. An outage for this report is defined in the Service Level Agreement.
  • Ultra adoption. Administrators managing sites with instructor choice for Ultra course adoption need to track adoption and use trends. This report shows the share of active Original and Ultra courses.

Administrators can now switch between viewing different environments. This includes looking at test/stage environments separate from production. Each site will display its deployed version, URLs, deployment location, and information about direct database access (DDA) if enabled.

This functionality will be released in September independently from the 3900.48 release. Details will be shared later on this page.

For administrators: Blackboard Home is only available for Learn SaaS. There are no configurations needed if Blackboard Home was previously enabled. In some environments, it can be necessary to perform the following action to allow access. Go to Administrator Panel > LTI Tool Providers. Find “Blackboard Home” and edit it. Enable “Role in Course” to send role information to Blackboard Home and click submit. Only full system administrators can access Blackboard Home.

Image 1: Course count over time shows the share of courses that are Original, Ultra, Undecided, and in Ultra Preview.

ourse count over time shows the share of courses that are Original, Ultra, Undecided, and in Ultra Preview

Image 2: Site utilization visualizations include throughput and user count reports.

Site utilization visualizations include throughput and user count reports

Image 3: Site health reports including uptime and Application Performance Index (Apdex).

Site health reports including uptime and Application Performance Index (Apdex)

Return to September 2022 – 3900.48 Release description


Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Display Name Choice – 3900.48

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View, Original Course View
Impact: All users, if enabled by administrator

As part of planned diversity, equity, and inclusion improvements, this feature gives institutions the option to allow users to express their preferred name. Name expression fosters greater respect among students and with faculty. Name expressions inform other course members about how best to refer to them.


Profile page settings

When administrators enable this feature, users may select their display name. The new options will appear for all users when editing their own profile in the Base Navigation area. A user editing their name will have options to display the first name, the additional name, or both names. A card preview shows how their name will appear.

  • First name: The first name field continues to display to users. This is the default for all users.
  • Additional name: A user chooses to display a different name to others. This is used when someone does not go by their legal given name.
  • Both names: A user chooses to display both the first name and additional name to other users. When selected, the additional name appears before the first name. This is used for nicknames or when a name has multiple forms.

Image 1: A user selecting to display additional name

A user selecting to display additional name

Image 2: A user selecting to display both first and additional names

A user selecting to display both first and additional names


Name display in Ultra Course View and Original Course View

Anywhere name information appears, the user’s choice is displayed to other users. This applies to areas throughout Learn:

  • Ultra Course View tools and pages
  • Original Course View tools and pages
  • Base Navigation and tools
  • Administrator experiences
  • Non-course tools such as Portfolios and Content Collection

Images 3 and 4: Examples from Ultra and Original Discussions

Examples from an Ultra Discussion showing a student's name
 
Examples from an Original Discussion showing a student's name

Images 5 and 6: Examples from Ultra and Original Groups

Example from an Ultra Group showing a student's name
 
Example from an Original Group showing a student's name

Sometimes administrators, faculty, and graders need to see actual name values. They may need to match up a user to an external system such as a Student Information System. The following locations display name fields without a user’s display name choice:

  • Ultra Course View: Instructors, assistants, and graders viewing the user details in the Course Roster
  • Original Course View: Instructors, assistants, and graders viewing the “Edit” page in the Control Panel user list
  • Administrator Panel: An administrator viewing the user “Edit” page in the user management panel
  • Gradebook exports and system and course reports

Image 7: An instructor viewing the student details in the Ultra Course Roster sees both the student’s display name choice and first name (defined in the Student Information System).

An instructor viewing the student details in the Ultra Course Roster sees both the student’s display name choice and first name (defined in the Student Information System).


Integration frameworks: REST, LTI, SIS Integration

  • Full name information sent for LTI will be the selected display name.
  • The SIS Framework remains unchanged. Field control configurations and field names are the same.
  • REST calls to First Name and Other Name fields remain unchanged.

For administrators: This feature is off by default. Enable in Admin Panel > Customize User Information. To use this feature, enable Base Navigation, and the “other name” field set to display. There are no other permissions configurations needed. Administrators still control whether users can edit data in the name fields. Admins still control whether data populates by external systems. The “Other Name” field name remains unchanged for integration purposes. This field displays to end users as “Additional Name.”

Image 8: Setting for allowing users to choose their displayed name

Setting for allowing users to choose their displayed name

Return to September 2022 – 3900.48 Release description


Congruent Mobile App and Desktop Experiences for Ultra Course View – 3900.46

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors, Students

The user experience in the Ultra Course View is now the same between the Blackboard mobile app and a web browser. In the past, users had to make a choice because the features were different between the app and a web browser.

This new Blackboard mobile app will be available August 8, 2022, from the iOS and Android app stores. Students using the current Blackboard app should simply update. Instructors, assistants, and graders should remove the Blackboard Instructor app. These users should download the Blackboard app.

The Blackboard app update does not change the experience for Original Course View.

For administrators: There are no configurations needed.

Return to August 2022 – 3900.46 Release description



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Check out the Blackboard Learn Release Notes Archive for more information on past releases.

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